First the Audit Office, and now the Public Accounts Committee have documented the failure of the delivery of the detailed care records systems. The DH should now cut its losses, allowing individual trusts to develop their own patient record systems, to a system of required standards to ensure compatibility and focus central government attention on other issues.
As we recommended in our report, Fixing NHS IT:
• Trusts should be free to set their own direction to meet local clinical priorities, provided nationally agreed standards are met.
• A course of national action and investment is needed in areas where IT is currently under-exploited in the NHS, notably telemedicine and collaborative technology, which are a focus in other countries such as in Scandinavia
• Those elements of NPfIT which are a valuable platform for the future should be developed. These include N3 (the NHS broadband network), PACS (the capture and communication of radiological and other images) and the Electronic Prescription Service.
• Action should be concentrated on addressing the care records service in acute hospitals where the failings are greatest. A series of tests are proposed and a plan of action should the model fail those tests.
• The roll-out of the controversial Summary Care Records project (part of the NHS Spine) should be halted.
• A radical reorientation and downsizing of the central IT organisation is needed for it to become more transparent and accountable to the NHS, in combination with a consolidation and strengthening of IT provision at the local level.